The housing market remains a key indicator of growth and prosperity across the country and throughout the period of lockdown we worked closely with our customers to keep them and the market moving – safely!
During lockdown it was clear that customers became more anxious, particularly around issues of whether their mortgage offers would last before their move or whether they could extend their mortgage offer!
Therefore, so that our customers can be prepared, we have revised our moving home checklist to include some of the risks to look out for from agreeing a mortgage in principle to a covid clean or giving notice on rented accommodation!
The number 1 rule: Try to agree a mortgage in principle
Before you have found your new home, you should begin the process of agreeing a mortgage in principle. These are often valid for 3-6 months and will help reduce delays later. Sellers prefer buyers who have their mortgage in place so there is less of a likelihood that a sale will fall through and some estate agents will want to see a mortgage in principle before arranging socially distant viewings in light of COVID-19.
If you have a mortgage in principle and your circumstances have changed, e.g. redundancies, you will need to inform the lender or this could be considered mortgage fraud.
3 months before your move
- After you have had an offer accepted, you should appoint your conveyancer to manage the legal aspects of the transaction. People often underestimate the time this can take, so early action is advisable. Ask your conveyancer what average timings they are currently working to, and see if they have any digital ways to speed up the service so you’re not relying on the postal service.
- You should also appoint your surveyor. You will need to liaise with your mortgage lender as they may wish to appoint a surveyor who is on the approved list.
- If you are in rented accommodation, inform your landlord of your intended moving date. But do not serve notice on your landlord until your legal advisor confirms that it is sensible to do so. Your legal advisor is responsible for the conveyancing process and will discuss completion dates with you when the time is right. Serving notice on your rented accommodation too early may leave you homeless however, there are recent restrictions brought in during the coronavirus crisis that mean landlords cannot evict you. Shelter has more information if this is a concern.
- Obtain quotes for removal companies. Consider whether they can practice socially distancing measures where applicable.
- Ensure that your insurance company provides cover particularly for valuable items during the move. If not, ensure that your removal company provides adequate insurance.
- Prepare an inventory to ensure nothing goes astray during the move. And ensure that the new property and any items of concern are cleaned according to NHS guidelines.
- Sort through the contents of your home to get rid of what you don’t want or need. The less you take, the lower the cost of the removal will be. Check to see if charity shops and refuse sites are open first, and whether there are any further restrictions.
- Record all important contact details and phone numbers that you may need.
- If this is a move associated with your job, check with your employer as to whether they are going to cover any of the costs of the move. If currently furloughed, check that you are following the specific rules, especially around timings for flexible working.
4 weeks before your move
- Check whether your removal company is going to supply packing material.
- Start liaising with your conveyancer to discuss the moving date. But remember to be led by them. They will give you a realistic view of the likely completion date and whether it has been adversely affected by COVID-19. Liaise with your landlord for a flexible rolling contract in case of any delays.
- Arrange insurance cover for the new house to start from exchange of contracts. Your conveyancer should advise you when to put cover in place. This will be your responsibility from exchange so make sure you get cover in time however, remain flexible where possible if there are delays in exchanging due to COVID-19.
2 weeks before your move
- Liaise with utility companies to inform them of the move date. Ask for their policy in the event that these dates have to be moved at short notice due to coronavirus hold ups.
- Get rid of any rubbish or unwanted items from sheds, cupboards, attics and cellars. You must sell with vacant possession unless your sales contract stipulates otherwise, and only leave items that you have included in your sales inventory known as the Fixtures Fittings and Contents form. Check with your local household refuse website to make sure it is open and has no current exemptions.
1 week before your move
- Finish packing and labelling boxes with the name of the room for the new house.
- Confirm with your removal company that the move date is still as planned, and they understand where the new house is and whether there are any travel restrictions. Inform neighbours where possible if you will be unable to follow social distancing guidelines.
- The time of the move cannot be guaranteed. It depends on the time the seller’s lawyers receive the sale monies. This can be later in the afternoon on the day of the move. So, it is a good idea to check with your removal company how long they will stay at the property. It may be wise to consider delayed completion insurance and if there are any COVID-19 exemptions.
- Cancel subscriptions, prepare change of address letters for banks, HMRC, utility companies, your employers, and set up a forwarding address for post with the post office. If you plan on working from your new home, check to see if there are any allowances that could help you.
- Pack your overnight suitcase ensuring you have all you will need on arrival.
- Ensure all boxes have their room destination.
- Check the house you are leaving is fully emptied and cleaned to COVID-19 standards.
- Record all utility meter readings and take an image on your phone for later review.
- Lock all windows, doors and make sure the house is secure.
- Make arrangements for the handover of keys. This may not be able to happen in person due to social distancing so discuss with your conveyancer or estate agent how this will occur.
- Make sure you understand how keys for the new house will be handed to you.
- Check in with your estate agent and conveyancer on the morning of completion to see how things are going on the legal side of things and double check in relation to the handover of keys.
- Do not hand over your keys on your sale until your conveyancer has advised you to do so.
To download your own checklist, click on the PDF link below.
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